Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Gymnema Sylvestre: Uses

Clinical Use SWEET TASTE SUPPRESSION AND WEIGHT LOSS A controlled trial of normal volunteers found that an aqueous gymnema extract with concentrated gymnemicacid reduced sweetness perception by 50%, resulting in reduced caloric consumption 1.5 hours after the sweetness-numbing effect stopped. This result supports the findings of animal studies. In a 6-week randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, a multi-herbal formula that included gymnema was found to significantly reduce body weight and fat loss in obese adults after 6 weeks; however, the role of gymnema in achieving these results is unknown. DIABETES TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 Orally, gymnema leaf is used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and hyperglycaemia. There are two clinical trials that suggest that gymnema may be useful in reducing blood glucose levels in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In one study the ability of the GS4 extract (400 mg/day) to supplement the use of conventional oral hypoglycaemic agents (glibenclamide or tolbutamide) was studied in 22 patients with type 2 diabetes over 18-20 months. Treatment resulted in a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose (174 ± 7 vs 124 ± 5 mg/dL), HbA1c (11.91 ± 0.3 vs 8.48 ± 0.13%) and Read more […]


ANTIDIABETIC AGENTS have a number of mechanisms of action. The most frequently used drugs are essentially antihyperglycaemic agents; often called hypoglycaemics. These are used principally in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Such drugs are quite distinct from those used to treat diabetes insipidus (see ANTIDIURETIC AGENTS). There are several types of antidiabetic treatment for diabetes mellitus. Firstly, insulin, which is used mainly in Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus; IDDM; juvenile-onset diabetes) cannot be taken by mouth and must be injected. Insulin is a protein hormone produced and secreted by the β-cells of the Islets of Langerhans within the pancreas. It has the effect of reducing the level of glucose in the blood, and is part of a balancing mechanism with the opposing hormone glucagon, which increases blood glucose. Its deficiency disorder — diabetes mellitus — therefore can result in hyperglycaemia, which can rapidly lead to severe symptoms, and potentially coma and death. There are many insulin preparations available, of both human and animal sequences, differing mainly in their duration of action. Secondly, oral hypoglycaemics are synthetic agents taken by mouth to reduce Read more […]

Magnesium: Clinical Use

In practice, Mg is administered by various routes such as intramuscular injection and intravenous infusion. This review will focus only on oral Mg, as this is the form most commonly used by the general public, outside the hospital setting. DEFICIENCY: TREATMENT AND PREVENTION Magnesium supplementation is traditionally used to correct deficiency states or avoid deficiency in people at increased risk, such as people with malabsorption syndromes and chronic alcoholics (Saris et al 2000). Low serum Mg levels <0.7 mmol/L (1.8 mg/dL, 1.5 meq/L) are indicative of Mg deficiency, although symptoms occur when serum Mg is <0.5 mmol/L (1.2 mg/dL, 1.0 meq/L). CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE Low Mg states are associated with several cardiovascular diseases, such as congestive heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, mitral valve prolapse, stroke, non-occlusive myocardial infarction and hyperlipidaemia. Although the pathophysiology of each condition is multifactorial, the multiple biological effects of Mg in the cardiovascular system suggest an important cardioprotective role. In the heart, it acts as a calcium-channel blocker and promotes resting polarisation of the cell membrane, thereby reducing Read more […]